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Monday, October 6, 2014

Dana Jared Brzenski Returns to
Bradford Stage in 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

Directors Shane Oschman and Pamala Mahle have announced that tickets are now available for “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the opening show for Bradford Little Theatre’s 18th season.

The iconic musical with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Weber opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, at Bradford Area High School with shows at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 12 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13.

About the cast, Pamala Mahle says “Vocally, this is one of the most talented casts I have ever had the pleasure to work with. In only three days we were able to cover over half of the score vocally. It was very impressive to watch how much further this cast stretched their abilities as rehearsals continued.”

Oschman added, “Not only that but they are truly dedicated to putting their very best effort on the stage. They are hardworking and, just as importantly, funny. We’ve been working hard but we’ve had fun while doing it too. A director can try to set a tone but the cast controls it. Their blend of serious work and light hearted laughter is both rare and welcomed. These people have quickly become my friends and not just a cast in a show.”

Choreographer is Bridgette Martin of Olean, NY, and a teacher at Dance Arts, also in Olean. Martin previously choreographed “JAWS: The Musical” but this is her first major production. “These actors show high energy and great enthusiasm,” she said.

Ticket outlets are Graham Florist, Ott & McHenry Pharmacy, Turn & Burn Café and all branches of Northwest Savings Bank at $10 each for students and seniors and $12 each for adults. Doors open 30 minutes before curtain. Also tickets are available through the BLT website at or by phoning 814-598-1101. If available, tickets will also be sold at the door at $12 and $14 respectively.

The rock opera is loosely based on accounts of the last week of Jesus’ life, highlighting the political and interpersonal struggles between Jesus and Judas not shown in the Biblical narratives. The show premiered in 1970, as evident in many of the musical numbers, especially the title song “Superstar.”

BLT newcomer Dana Jared Brzenski of Derrick City will play Judas, an apostle dissatisfied with the direction Jesus is steering his disciples. Longtime Bradford audiences may remember Brzenski’s many roles as a youth in Kiwanis Kapers and in the Bradford Creative and Performing Arts Center amateur shows of the mid-80s: as Dodger in “Oliver,” “Guys and Dolls,” and Conrad in “Bye, Bye Birdie.”

Oschman will also be joining the cast in the role of Jesus. Most recently Oschman was behind the scenes in June as musical director of BLT’s “JAWS: The Musical.” However, he is no stranger to the stage, having played the lead role of Jean Valjean in Olean (N.Y.) Theatre Workshop’s “Les Miserables” and a major role in BLT’s “Twelve Angry Men.””

The part of Pontius Pilate, governor of Judea, will be played by Boris VanDruff of Olean, who has participated in many BLT shows including “Godspell.” He portrayed Javert in “Les Miserables” and this summer with Olean Commmunity Theeater in “A Grand Night for Singing.”

Performing alongside her brother as Mary Magdalene will be Tanaka VanDruff, also of Olean. A veteran performer, she recently sang in “A Grand Night for Singing.” “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” and “A Year with Frog and Toad.”

Returning to the BLT stage is Jake Riggs of Cuba, N.Y. Recently seen as Quint in “Jaws,” Riggs will portray Herod, King of Galilee. He has been in “A Grand Night for Singing” and in OTW’s “Design for Murder.”

Caiaphas, a high priest who sees Jesus as a threat to the Jewish nation, will be portrayed by Nathan H. Bell of Hinsdale, N.Y. Over the years, Bell acted in various BLT productions, including “Frog and Toad,” “Don’t Dress for Dinner” and, ironically, Jesus in “Godspell.” He has been in a number of OCT and OTW shows, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “Les Miserables.”

Barry Fitzgerald of Allegany, N.Y., will portray Annas, , whom Caiaphas persuades to see Jesus as a threat. Fitzgerald played Harold Hill in BLT’s “The Music Man” and has also performed in Kiwanis Kapers.

Cast as the other Pharisees are BLT newcomer Rhett Kennedy of Bradford and Al Bernstein of Olean.

The apostle Peter will be brought to life by David Merwine of Bradford, who is quickly becoming a BLT regular having been in both “Jaws” and “Music Man.” He also performed in “A Grand Night for Singing.” Andrew Dutko of Bradford make his BLT stage debut as the apostle Simon Zealotes but was previously musical director for “The Marvelous Wonderettes.”

The rest of the 12 apostles will be offered by Chelsea Place, Linda Frick, Connie Shanks, Becki Confer, Allison Ambrose, Victoria Kearns, Hannah Ebert and Dan Robinson, all of Bradford, and Adam Losey of Olean, N.Y.

Making up the ensemble are Kristin Asinger, Brianna Bare, Elizabeth Burkholder, Bonnie Leposa, Martin, Nancy McCabe, Sophia McCabe, Laura Piccioli, Liz Tkacik and Dani Weber.

Producer Nanci K. Garris, BLT president, said “Bradford Little Theatre is thrilled with the talent this cast represents. There are cast members from many different communities but they’ve come together for one purpose – to put on a great show! Add the wonderful direction of Pamala Mahle and Shane Oschman, and I guarantee audiences will be thrilled Jesus Christ Superstar is the show you won’t want to miss!”

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